What an off-season it’s been for Pierre Dorion and the crew, in terms of acquiring needs, being active n the free agency market, and moving tough contracts. Today, I’m going to be breaking down trades and signings, and other moves.
First off, props to Pierre for his sudden master class. After years of being in the depths of the league, it’s finally looking good for Sens fans, and the end of the rebuild is on the horizon. While I’m not sure if playoffs are in the question right now with holes in our D-core and younger players still working on finding their NHL game, it’s definitely going to be soon. We’ve used cap space effectively while still saving money for big paydays coming up after entry-level contracts expire like Tim Stutzle, and Jake Sanderson, both of which will get paid big time eventually.
The Alex DeBrincat Trae
First off, I'm not sure if there’s a single person in the entire universe saying Chicago won this deal. Pierre steals a 40-goal scorer for pocket change and solidifies a young crew. Alex DeBrincat was rumored to be on the way out of Chicago with a major tear-it-down to the foundation rebuild coming soon and was expected to be moved sometime between then and the next off-season. Days before the draft GM Kyle Davidson talked about how they weren’t going to rush into trading Alex unless the right package was sent their way.
Well, hours before the NHL Entry Draft, things seemed very rushed when the news broke that DeBrincat was a Senator. Ottawa sent a 2022 first-round pick which was seventh overall, a 2022 second-round pick which was 39th overall, and a 2024 third-round pick. With the seventh overall pick, the Blackhawks took Kevin Korchinski of the Seattle Thunderbirds. Korchinski is a flashy left-handed defenseman that often will take a second look at the play to make that perfect pass. Overall he’s not bad but with better quality defensemen on the board, you’ve got to hope he blooms with Chicago. Experts say he’s a defensive liability which is concerning for a defenseman.
The 39th overall pick was used to select Paul Ludwinski, a center with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. Overall these two players were picked a little higher than where I had them ranked.
This is huge for the Senators because we’ve been known to go off the board sometimes when picking and selecting a huge reach at seven wouldn’t be good for the fans of this franchise, so flipping the pick for a high-end winger is an excellent move.
Final Grade: A+.
The Matt Murray Trade
This is a trade I’m sure some fans were happy and some fans weren’t, but despite public opinion, I think it was needed. Murray had his up’s and downs with Ottawa and sometimes he was 2017 playoff Murray, and sometimes he was AHL Murray, then he was injured. Inconsistency is the last thing you want from a guy you’re paying $6.25 million every year expecting to be your starter.
Personally, I think we gave a little much to get rid of the contract with a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 seventh-round pick, but when you only have to retain 25% of that $6.25M, it’s a solid cap dump.
Final Grade: B.
The Cam Talbot Trade
This deal shows to the other teams around the league that we aren’t afraid to ship out unproven young talent for proven veterans. Cam Talbot is an aging goaltender who has put up a .915 save percentage over the past 3 seasons and hopefully solves the Senators goaltending issue.
The former NHL All-Star carries an annual cap hit of around $3.6 million and is a UFA next summer. Going to Minnesota is young prospect Filip Gustavsson who has tons of potential to be an NHL goalie one day and had a solid showing with the Senators' AHL affiliate, the Belleville Senators. Filip, who struggled at the NHL pace when given opportunities, has competition with the Wild for the future of the crease with 2021 Wild draftee Jesper Wallstedt. This is a solid deal for both sides.
Final Grade: B+.
The Connor Brown Trade
Brown was loved by most fans in Ottawa so this one stings a bit, but for good reason. With all the new talent headed our way, unfortunately for Connor, it pushed him out of the top nine which isn’t fair as he won’t be as effective with that little ice time, so instead, ship him somewhere that could use him and gain an asset.
Brown also voiced his interest in testing free agency at the end of his contract in 2023 so adding a 2nd round pick is decent. Also, if I’m a team being offered a package, a 2nd round pick sounds more appealing than Connor Brown.
Final Grade: B+.
The Claude Giroux Signing
I’m a huge fan of this signing. Getting a former captain added to this leadership group is important. Claude has tons of playoff experience and brings a lot of offense to the table despite getting older. The playmaking center loves to use his teammates and averaged 0.86 points per game in the 2021-22 season with the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers.
Giroux lives in Ottawa in the summer so he's been in and around the city many times, making Ottawa the better decision. Claude has an annual cap hit of $6.5 million over the next three seasons is pretty cheap for someone who averages 0.91 points per game over his career, which is a pretty impressive stat. The six-time NHL All-Star was a Hart Trophy finalist in the 2013-14 season along with Ryan Getzlaf and Sidney Crosby. He fills in our star-power-needed 2nd line beautifully alongside Alex DeBrincat and Tim Stutzle.
Final Grade: A.
The Josh Norris Signing
Josh Norris is a talented scorer who excelled on the power play, cranking one-timer from the top of the circle and often fooling goaltenders. Norris played first-line minutes this season when healthy with Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson. Getting Josh inked long-term is important for the Sens because he’s their top centreman for years to come.
The youngster on an 82-game scoring pace of 43 goals and around 68 points suffered an injury on January 27th against the Hurricanes, keeping him out till March third which was rough on the Sens who also were missing Drake Batherson for a similar stretch of time. Despite people saying this is an overpay, at $7.95 million per year, this contract should turn out to be a steal somewhere down the road to have a 35-45 goal scorer locked down for just under $8 million.
Final Grade: B-.
The Mathieu Joseph Signing
This is huge for the Sens. Joseph was great for us through the 11 games he played putting up 12 points. He was effective in our Top 6 but when playing in Tampa’s bottom 6, he seemed to struggle. Hopefully, he ends up with Alex Formenton who’s got speed, and rookie Shane Pinto who hopes to make a showing for the Calder trophy along with teammate Jake Sanderson.
Formenton-Pinto-Joseph would be a solid depth line following the top six. Formenton and Joseph could be solid penalty killers and could build chemistry there and slot Pinto in there as well. As long as Pinto proves to be solid and adds onto his eye-catching pre-season in 21-22, and Formenton works on his finishing game, plus Joseph’s experience in a cup champ locker room, this could be a boom or bust line for the Sens. If this line has a strong showing and works out well, the Senators whole top 9 is really strong.
The important part of this deal is the term. Joseph is easily worth north of his $2.95 million yearly but he’s also locked down for 4 more years. 4 years is important because if he has a breakout or improves any, that contract is a steal and he would have tons of value on the market. While I'm sure Joz will be a Sen for a while longer, he would bring back some great assets, especially on that contract.
Final Grade: A-.
The Colin White Buyout
This move stings as a Sens fan, but it’s in our best interests. Colin White was another fan favorite in Ottawa and had a “bromance” with defenseman Thomas Chabot. He was a huge locker room character that put a lot of wind into most players' sails.
Recently, he and Shane Pinto were both injured and spent lots of time together which kept Pinto motivated to get better and improve to be the best out there. Colin was one of the first to commit long-term to this rebuilding Sens team when nobody else would, but after his payday, scoring production slowly decreased. With just 28 points in 69 games over the past two seasons, he really wasn’t worth his $4.75 million contract.
Final Grade: B+.
All in all, there are still a few moves Pierre Dorion could make to wrap up this off-season with training camp coming up soon, but he’s done a great job filling needs and getting a lot without giving up much. Zaitsev is still someone that needs to be moved, and a Top 4 RHD is still needed to shore up our D-core. I think we shouldn’t have doubted Pierre, and he’s played his cards right all along and set us up nicely for the future.